Negotiating a Contract

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I hear it all the time from my clients, that prices are just out of control these days when planning a wedding or other event.  And they want to know how to get the best pricing from all of the vendors they are interested in hiring.  Now, even if you don’t have years of experience working with vendors and building relationships with them, you do have power to negotiate pricing and the following tips will help do just that.

* Conduct lots and lots of research on the internet, in magazines, talking to other brides, etc.  Find out what style attracts you the most and find out as much as you can such as how much other similar vendors charge.

* Make sure you know how much you are willing to spend!  At this point, you should have a budget written up and you are going to stick with it.  Keep a cap on pricing for each item and only meet with those that fall in your price range.    There is so much talent out there and the pricing can range from very budget to very high-end so again, this is where research will really have helped!

* When you finally meet with your vendors, find out what options are available to lower the price.  The thing that doesn’t work – asking this question: “Do you offer discounts?” because the vendor can just give you a straight “no” answer.  Instead, ask open-ended questions such as “What can we do to lower this price?” or “What options do I have to receive a discount on your services?”  These types of questions will initiate dialogue and hopefully, bring you closer to achieving your goal price.  HOT tip: sometimes vendors will give you a 10-20% discount if you pay your total up front.

* Work with professionals newer to the business, as they usually offer lower prices, but make sure they have plenty of references.  If you do decide to go with a vendor who is lower priced because they are trying to build their portfolio or gain experience, make absolutely sure to get at least three references and call these customers to find out how happy they were with the service provided. 

* Find out if the packages are flexible.  Even if a vendor you really like shows only three or four levels of service on their website, ask them if they are willing to customize a package just for you.  For example, on the Charming Events website, I have three types of services listed, however, all of these can be worked around to fit a client’s needs.  What you usually see is what is most popular and usually requested by past clients.  Maybe you don’t need 10 hours of photography and 8 hours would be fine.  In this case, you can probably get a lower price or get something in return for the two hours you won’t be utilizing.

* Always get the pricing and/or discounts in writing.  Even the most well-intentioned vendor may forget what you discussed if it was not placed in writing soon after discussion. 

This isn’t the most glamorous part of your event planning but you will feel so good when you know that you did the best you could in getting the best price and the vendors you always wanted!

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